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Chapter 02 - Competitiveness, Strategy, and Productivity

Answers to Discussion and Review Questions


1.

They would be helpful in the sense that they would give U.S. manufacturers time to step up the
use of industrial robots and other measures, which would make them better able to compete in
domestic and world markets. The higher profits possible from reduced competition or higher
prices on foreign cars could be used for research and development costs. Possible pitfalls include
higher prices and less choice, which U.S. consumers would have to endure, and the possibility
that U.S. companies would not use this as an opportunity to improve, but merely as a crutch.
From the Japanese standpoint, they would be penalized for doing what many would see as a good
job.

2.

Business organizations compete with one another in a variety of ways. Key among these ways are
price, quality, product differentiation, flexibility, and delivery time.

3.

Characteristics such as price, quality, delivery speed, delivery reliability all can be order qualifiers
or order winners. It is important to determine the set of order qualifier and order winner
characteristics so that companies can emphasize or de-emphasize a given characteristic based on
its classification of importance. Marketing must play a major role in determining order qualifiers
and order winners. In classifying order winners and order qualifiers, marketing and operations
must work together to match the market needs with the operational capability of the firm.

4.

One store that many of us shop at is Wal-Mart. In the last decade, Wal-Mart has been growing
steadily and gaining market share. There are numerous reasons why Wal-Mart has been
successful in a very competitive market. Wal-Marts ability to provide a very wide variety of
goods with reasonable prices gives the company a competitive edge. Another reason involves the
firms ability to integrate various aspects of its operations with suppliers. In other words,
successful supply chain management provides Wal-Mart with another competitive advantage.
Many of us travel around the country and the world and stay at various hotels/motels. One of the
hotel chains that has been successful is Super 8. The company is able to compete successfully
because it is able to offer a safe, clean overnight stay at very reasonable prices in small markets.
The specific tactics followed by the company are consistent with the basic niche that the company
has carved out for itself.

5.

The balanced scorecard is a top-down management system that helps managers focus attention on
strategic issues related to finance, internal processes, customers, and learning and growth.

6.

Strategy is the basic approach used by an organization to achieve its goal. Tactics are the methods
and actions that are taken to accomplish strategies and carry out operations.

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Chapter 02 - Competitiveness, Strategy, and Productivity


7.

Organization strategy provides the overall direction for the organization and is broad in scope,
e.g., low cost, scale-based strategies, specialization, newness, flexible operations, high quality,
service, or sustainability. Operations strategy is narrower in scope, dealing primarily with the
operations aspect of the organization. Operations strategy must be consistent with organization
strategy and deals with products, processes, methods, operating resources, quality, costs, lead
times, and scheduling.

8.

Time-based strategies are approaches that focus on reducing the time needed to conduct the
various activities in a process. The rationale is that by reducing time, costs are generally lower,
productivity is higher, quality tends to be higher, product innovations appear on the market
earlier, and customer service is improved. Examples of time-based strategies include reductions
in any three of the following: planning time, product/service design time, processing time,
changeover time, delivery time, or response time for complaints.

9.

a. Productivity is the ratio of output to input.


b. Productivity measures are used to judge the effective use of resources by countries,
companies, and units within companies.
c. High productivity rates relative to competitors can mean competitive advantages for
companies. For countries, high productivity rates can reduce the risk of inflation and generate
high standards of living for the country as a whole.
d. Operations.
e. Efficiency relates to a fixed set of tools or conditions. Productivity is wider in scope.
Efficiency can be improved by better use of existing labor and equipment. Productivity can
be improved by changing work methods, but also by changing equipment or conditions. The
example of cutting grass with a pair of scissors is a good one: An efficiency approach would
focus on the best way to use the scissors; a productivity approach would focus on use of a
lawn mower. Note: Use of a mower, while more productive than the use of scissors, still may
have room for improvement in its efficiency.

10.

Factors affecting productivity include the following: Methods, capital, quality, technology, and
management.
Ways productivity can be improved include the following: Using productivity measures for all
operations; eliminating bottlenecks; soliciting ideas from workers; forming work teams; studying
other firms; reexamining work methods; establishing reasonable goals for improvement;
obtaining support from management; measuring, rewarding, and publicizing improvements; and
finally, not confusing productivity with efficiency because productivity is a much broader concept
than efficiency is.

11.

The Japanese worker is probably working smarter, if not harder, than U.S. workers are. By
working smarter, we mean the Japanese are using more productive work methods than American
workers are. One way that the Japanese accomplish this is by using time-based strategies that
focus on reducing the time needed to accomplish various tasks. Some of the areas in which their
organizations benefit from time reduction are planning time, design time, processing time,
changeover time, delivery time, and response time for complaints.
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Copyright 2015 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill
Education.

Chapter 02 - Competitiveness, Strategy, and Productivity

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Copyright 2015 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill
Education.

Chapter 02 - Competitiveness, Strategy, and Productivity


12.

It appears that Boeing can concentrate on selling its smaller airplanes in larger volumes to smaller
airline companies. The advantage of producing smaller airplanes is the fact that Boeing can
produce relatively large quantities at a lower cost. The disadvantage of producing smaller
airplanes is that most likely, the profit margin is less and larger quantities must be sold to generate
the same income as when smaller quantities of larger airplanes are produced. The advantage of
producing larger airplanes is that most likely the profit margin is higher and the Airbus Company
can afford to produce a smaller quantity of large airplanes to generate the same income as when
larger quantities of smaller airplanes are produced by the rival company.

13.

a. Interest rate on savings.


b. Interest rate on checking and CDs.
c. Loan rates.
d. Quick loan application processing.
e. No fees or low fee values (free checking, no or low ATM fees).
f.

Number of branches and locations to make it more convenient for the customers.

g. Free on-line banking.


h. Extended hours of service.
i.

Extra services.

j.

Lower minimum deposit before charging a service fee.

14. Technology usually works best when processing requirements are uniform. Therefore, reducing
the variability provides more opportunities for implementing technology.
15. Answers will vary. Examples of companies with time based-strategies include fast-food
restaurants, overnight package delivery companies, and universities offering undergraduate
degrees in less time than the standard four years. Companies with quality-based strategies include
high-end hotels, manufacturers of luxury automobiles, and high-end retailers.

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Copyright 2015 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill
Education.